Friday, February 24, 2017

For the Love of Candy


Save the Earth; it's the only planet 
with chocolate



I’ve got candy on my mind this month and it has nothing to do with the empty box of chocolates on my desk. The real reason I’m thinking of all things sweet is that I’m working on a heroine who owns a candy shop.
 

While doing the research for my book, I turned up some fun and interesting facts. For example, we can blame our sweet tooth on our cavemen ancestors and their fondness for honey. But the most surprising thing I discovered was that marshmallows grow on trees—or at least used to. That was before the French came up with a way to replace the sweet sap from the mallow tree with gelatin.
 
I also learned that during the middle ages, the price of sugar was so high that only the rich could afford a sweet treat. In fact, candy was such a rarity that the most children could expect was an occasional sugar plum at Christmas. (BTW: there are no plums in sugar plums. Plum is another word for good).


This changed during the early nineteenth century with the discovery of sugar-beet juice and mechanical candy-making machines.

Soon jars of colorful penny candy could be found in every trading post and general store in the country. It took almost four hundred candy manufacturing companies to keep up with the demand.

This changed the market considerably. Children as young as four or five were now able to make purchases independent of their parents. (Had youngsters known that vegetables including spinach were used to color candy, they might not have wasted their money.)

Children weren’t the only ones enjoying the availability of cheap candy. Civil War soldiers favored gumdrops, jelly beans, hard candy and, hub wafers (now known as Necco wafers). 


Never one to miss a trend, John Arbuckle, noted the sugar craze that had swept the country and decided to use it as marketing tool. He included a peppermint stick in each pound bag of Arbuckle’s coffee to encourage sales.

“Who wants the peppermint?” was a familiar cry around chuck wagons.

This call to grind the coffee beans got a rash of volunteers. No rough and tumble cowboy worth his salt would turn down a stick of peppermint candy, especially when out on the trail.

Arbuckle wasn’t the only one to see gold in candy. Outlaw Doc Scurlock, friend of Billy the Kid and a Bloody Lincoln County War participant, retired from crime in 1880. Though he was still a wanted man, he moved to Texas and opened up a candy store.

Cadbury, Mars and Hershey rode herd on the chocolate boom of the late 1800s, early 1900s. Penny candy still made up eighteen percent of candy sales but, by this time, some merchants had refused to sell it. Profits were thin and selling such small amounts to children was time-consuming. Chocolate was more profitable.

The penny candy market vanished altogether during World War II when sugar was rationed. Fortunately, no war could do away with chocolate.

Okay, now that your sweet tooth has gone into overdrive, tell us the name of your favorite candy? Anyone have a candy memory to share?




Welcome to Two-Time Texas

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15 comments:

  1. Favorite candy is Peanut Butter Snickers. I remember being able to purchase penny candy at a little mom and pop grocery store close to my grandparents' church and parsonage home when I was a child. A nickel worth of candy was a treat. Thank you for sharing.

    A Match Madde in Texas will be a fun read.

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    1. Hi Marilyn, what sweet memories you have! Thank you for sharing!

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  2. Peanut M&M's are pretty hard to beat. Their addictive nature will get you in trouble if you don't watch out! Love your post, Margaret!

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    1. Melanie, I agree. M&Ms are my favorite. Chocolate and nuts are a winning combination!

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  3. Very interesting and entertaining post, Margaret. But penny candy didn't disappear with WWII, or if it did, it came back in the 50's and 60's. When I was a little girl, I could take my allowance of a quarter and go to any of three little stores near my house (in three different directions) and fill up a little brown paper sack with 25 pieces of candy! My favorites? Peanut butter logs, Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie roll pops (which were two cents).

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    1. Hi Marilyn, thank you. You're right:Penny candy did make sort of a come-back after the war when sugar was no longer rationed.

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  4. I love Dive dark chocolate ! Or Snickers will do anytime ! My story. Going home from church one Sunday morning,my sister and I were sharing a candy bar ( probably a Snickers or Mily Way) in the back seat of a 30's Oldsmobile ( it was 1954-- we were 4&5). Daddy was crossing a blind intersection and Mother yelled look out Paul! Crash! Low impact but the back seat flew up and we dropped our half of the candy bar. We were crying but not from the crash! No, one of us had finished her's and the other one claimed the remaining half was her's!!! I don't remember who the bad guy was!!! Everyone was ok. We went to a church member's house who happened to live nearby.

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    1. Hi Paula, love your story! Since you lived to tell about it, I'm assuming you and your sister resolved the problem. LOL

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  5. Bad autocorrect:: it's Dove Dove Dove!!!

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  6. Oops forgot about the penny candy. I liked Mary Janes and those little spots of candy on the paper. We were allowed a few as a treat when we went with Daddy to get the Sunday paper at the small grocery when I was 4 or 5. We were NOT allowed to get the candy cigarettes or bubble gum cigars! Walgreens came out with some nostalgia candy a few years ago. Don't know if they still carry it.

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    1. Strangely, enough, I was allowed candy cigarettes. No one seemed to think anything about it at the time. I must have gotten it out of my system, because I never touched a real cigarette.

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  7. What a fun post, Margaret. I'll ride to town for a Hershey's Kiss.

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    1. Hi Davalyn, I would crawl to town for a Hershey's kiss!

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  8. How could I forget Hershey 's!!!

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